*. Wesgro is inviting investors to capitalize on the depreciation of the Rand in investing in the Western Cape, and to buy exported products from the province. Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said that the province’s skilled workforce would offer investors better value for money. Investors would benefit from the lower costs created by the weaker Rand in setting Continue reading →
* Taittinger has redesigned its bottle label and gift pack, to reflect its status as official champagne sponsor of the 2014 World Cup soccer in Brazil. Holograms have been used, and the footballs on the label appear raised but are flat. The brand has already been fined in France for advertising its link to the World Cup, but will communicate this in other countries, especially in South America, having the right to the title until the end of 2015.
* The directive by the Minister of Finance that VAT be levied on international e-books levels the playing field says the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA), despite VAT being charged on books not being encouraged by the PASA. The new legislation is not a surprise as governments are working on collecting VAT/sales tax on sales in their regions. Foreign retailers selling into South Africa will now have to register as VAT vendors. A healthier retail book trade is expect to result. Internationally digital book sales are at about 50%, but in South Africa they are currently only at 20%. Charging VAT could generate R 1 billion in revenue for the country. The Cape Town Book Fair, running from 13 – 15 June, will showcase the latest technological developments on e-reading. (received via media release from The Embassy)
* Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve is hosting a number of Food and Wine Weekend treats in winter, pairing with top wine estates, including Meerlust (30 May – 1 June), Bouchard Finlayson (27 – Continue reading →
While the weather was not very co-operative in offering Cape Town a sunny summer’s day yesterday, it was a fun and friendly tasting of 21 wines for the Chenin Blanc Association Summer Showcase of fresh and fruity Chenin Blancs at the Cape Grace hotel.
Twice a year the roughly 50 Chenin Blanc producers meet to showcase their two styles of wine, rich and ripe in winter, and fresh and fruity in summer. The functions are kept small, with an almost equal number of winemakers and writers invited, allowing a quality interaction between the media and wine representatives. The producers have a passion for Chenin Blanc, which is the largest wine varietal produced in our country at about 18%, yet is not yet well known locally and even less so internationally. Through the work of the Association, the standing of Chenin Blanc is improving, and its benefits of offering value and being an excellent food wine are increasingly becoming known.
In the absence of Chenin Blanc Association Chairman Ken Forrester, described as ‘resident winemaker in the USA’, and Vice Chairman Jeff Grier, who had just arrived for his harvest in France, the most charming Bosman Family Vineyards winemaker Corlea Fourie led the tasting of the wines. She represented Chenin Blanc to me – blonde, soft, sweet, understated, and gentle, yet tough when she needs to be! She fed back that 30 Chenins had been made available for tasting at ‘The Beautiful South‘ wine tasting of South African, Chilean, and Argentinian wines in London last month. Each producer had submitted their Chenin Blanc(s) to be evaluated by Continue reading →
The Hermanus Wine & Food Fair is more low key than similar ones in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Riebeeck Kasteel. This year the Fair is expanding its reach by putting close to 50 wine producers’ more than 250 wines, from Elgin to Elim and including Hermanus and Stanford, on show over the Women’s Day long weekend, from tomorrow until Sunday, in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village at the entrance to Hermanus. The proceeds of the Fair will go to the nearby Camphill School for children with special needs.
This is the 15th year that the Fair will be staged. The wines on show represent a wine region which has more 4 and 5 star Platter-rated wines than any other in South Africa, says the Fair write-up in Bay.
For the first time an interactive website www.thevine.co.za will allow winelovers attending the show to rate and review the wines they have tasted, and so build up a history of their wine tasting experiences, and share these with other wine lovers. The producers who will present their wines, many of them on the Hermanus Wine Route, are the following: Arumdale, Almenkerk, Ataraxia, Barton, Beaumont Wines, Belfield Wines, Black Oystercatcher, Boschrivier, Bouchard Finlayson, Brunia, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Feiteiras Wines, Ghost Corner, Henry, Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein, Hornbill, Iona, Jakob’s Vineyards, Jean Daneel, La Vierge, Lomond, Newton Johnson, Raka, 7Springs, Southern Right Wines, Spioenkop Wines, Spookfontein, Strandveld & First Sighting, Stanford Hills – Jackson’s, Southhill, Sumaridge, The Berrio, Vaalvlei, Whalehaven, Walker Bay Vineyards, William Everson, Winters Drift, and Zandfontein. Paul du Toit, owner of Wine Village, is the co-ordinator of the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair.
The food at the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair will be provided by the restaurants in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village centre, including The Class Room, B’s Steakhouse, and Season. EAT will run a Peroni Beer and wine bar. In addition, cheeses, olive products, charcuterie, buchu teas, bee products, herb liqueurs, nuts, sundried tomatoes, pomegranate products, pesto pastes, artisanal chocolates, and breads will be available for tasting and to purchase.
Hermanus Wine & Food Fair, Hemel-en-Aarde Village, Hermanus. 9 – 11 August, 11h00 – 19h00. R 95 per day, or R200 for 3-day pass. Free parking. www.hermanuswineandfood.co.za. Book via Computicket.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
I had read about the re-opening of Maria’s Greek Restaurant on Dunkley Square in the Property magazine, with a detailed description of the labour of love that owner Cleon Romano and his wife Kate put into the renovation of the building that was starting to show its age. I had the most wonderful evening on my visit two weeks ago, largely due to the friendliness and sharing of information by Cleon, and I could not help but think that Maria had returned to her original home, as a ‘reincarnated’ half-Greek Cleon.
Cleon’s Greek dad owned Romano Signs, and Cleon says his dad would have been proud of him opening a Greek restaurant, just a year after his dad passed away. Cleon’s chef mother Yvonne Romano, from the Mediterranean Kitchen, is currently running a Greek cookery course on Skiathos. Maria, the original owner of the restaurant, starting running a Greek deli from the property and had also lived there, as long ago as fifty years or more, but is said to have disappeared overnight in 1981. Cleon is only the fourth owner of the building, and bought it in 1994.
The work on a neighbouring property, in excavating it to create an underground garage, led to cracks in the Maria’s building, and Cleon had to close for three years to reinforce the building underneath the foundation, against the walls and across the ceilings, with the help of structural engineer, and an architect that had worked on the restoration of buildings in Tulbagh after the earthquake in 1969. The interior space has opened up, and doors can be opened in summer to allow the restaurant to spill out onto Dunkley Square. The colour scheme is earthy and wooden, and Cleon impressed with his environmental care, in his choice of wall decoration (a water-based sealer), the finish on the walls, the eco-sensitive floor paint, his wooden untreated brass-top tables, the chairs for which he made the seating himself, and biodegradable toilet paper. He proudly told me about his earthworm farm at his home, to transform his vegetable waste into compost.
Lighting is low, and interesting in being individual lamps with brass cup holders, which can be adjusted in height and in direction, the ones at Haiku having been Cleon’s inspiration. The tables have shell-shaped candle holders, but the flickering ‘candlelight’ is created by tiny LED lamps that are charged overnight. The ceiling is made in true Greek style with white painted reeds, over a blue ceiling. Upstairs is another room with its own bar counter, and each of the sections can seat about 30 guests. A gas heater stands inside and is switched on when it gets chilly. The kitchen is open to the restaurant. In honour of Maria, Cleon has kept two original green-painted doors near the bathroom. Greek music is played continuously, and gave a warm taverna atmosphere, with the restaurant filling up quickly, and the guests expressing their enjoyment to Cleon when they left.
Cleon and I did not stop chatting for the three hours that I was at the restaurant, and he sat down to share his passion for his restaurant and life in general with me. We connected in many different ways, including Camps Bay, having known his mother, Cleon being a restaurant designer, and in having operated in the hospitality industry for a number of years. Cleon was sweetly naive in his question as to whether he should have a website for the restaurant, and Twitter and blogging seemed foreign concepts to him. He also had not seen the recent review that JP Rossouw had written about the restaurant, so positive that Rossouw had written that he wanted to celebrate his birthday there. Maria’s had just listed Beaumont wines two days previously, Rossouw’s wife being the marketing manager of Beaumont.
The menu caused a bit of a problem when I arrived, as it is lengthy, but hung on a wall, and was very high up, so that it is hard to read, with its small writing. As I did not say that I was writing a review, the waitress could not understand why I could not wait to see an e-mail with the full list of menu options and their prices. Cleon solved the problem by bringing down a menu board from upstairs. He probably will have more boards in future. The winelist is also on a board and also hung on the wall, but contains fewer items and therefore was easier to read. The vintages of the wines are not listed, due to space constraints on the board, Cleon said. The wine is served in traditional Greek glass beakers. Nine white wines start from R25/R90 for Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill white blend, and peak at R 145 for De Morgenzon Chardonnay, and Tokara Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Graham Beck is the only sparkling wine served, both its Brut and Brut Rosé costing R160. Eikendal’s red costs R25/R95, and Glen Carlou’s Tortoise Hill 2008 red blend R35/R130. Beaumont Raoul costs R105, and Mooiplaas Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 R180.
The menu contains mainly mezze items, such as roasted almonds (R15); hummus and tzatziki (R25); mucer (a Turkish courgette fritter at R35); dolmades (R30); tiropitakia and spanakopita (R35); keftethes, and fried halloumi (R40). Main courses are vegetable (R55) and lamb moussaka (R70), Patagonian calamari (R65), slow roasted Greek lamb (R135), and hake in beer batter (R70). I had the delicious lightly fried halloumi, pita bread and a wonderfully creamy tzatziki with dill, followed by the grilled calamari, served with a small Greek salad and chips, the calamari being too oily. A separate menu board on the opposite wall listed specials, being calamari stuffed with feta, chilli, rocket and lemon zest (R55), West Coast mussels in a cream sauce (R40/R70), and pasta of the day, which was salmon and créme fraîche (R80) that day. The lamb comes from a butcher at the Neighbourgood Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, and Cleon says that they like to support “the small guys.” The mezze bowls were made by Cleon and Kate at a pottery studio in Hout Bay. Kate is the chef, working with a dedicated team.
I felt absolutely at home at Maria’s, having been a very frequent visitor to Paros and Mykonos for ten years, and also a regular supporter of Maria’s many years ago. I liked the customer responsiveness, in that the restaurant will open on Saturdays for lunch from now on, because I and another group of customers had come from the City Bowl Market on Hope Street to eat at Maria’s, but found it closed for lunch. Cleon and Kate are charming and friendly, and the service was attentive. I loved Cleon’s philosophy of rather having quality than quantity in his guests, and seemed to be in no rush to market the restaurant. I will be back.
Maria’s Greek Restaurant, 31 Barnett Street, Dunkley Square, Gardens. Tel (021) 461-3333. No website. Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage